More than 8,000 Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes on their way to Latvia from South Tyneside

Carol Hall (front right) with volunteers as they load the lorry with boxes. Picture by FRANK REID
Carol Hall (front right) with volunteers as they load the lorry with boxes. Picture by FRANK REID

More than 8,000 shoeboxes filled with goodies are now on their way to Latvia to help put a smile on a child’s face this Christmas.

Volunteers, with the help of firefighters from Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, loaded the lorry set for the Eastern European destination, yesterday, from a warehouse in Jarrow.

The fully loaded lorry makes its way. Picture by FRANK REID

The fully loaded lorry makes its way. Picture by FRANK REID

For the past few weeks, kind-hearted residents from across South Tyneside, Gateshead and the SR6 area of Sunderland have been donating boxes filled with gifts for deprived youngsters who would otherwise wake on Christmas Day to nothing.

Operation Christmas Child is run by the Samaritan’s Purse and has been sending shoeboxes of goodies to youngsters living in poor countries since 1990.

Carol Hall, district organiser who has been part of Operation Christmas Child for the past 26 years said: “This is a fantastic achievement. We are down on the number of shoeboxes but people have been so generous. This is a hard time of the year, but people are so kind in our region. We are just so grateful we will be able to put smiles on 8,253 children’s faces when they get to Latvia and to know we have made a difference.

“The most fantastic thing is, knowing you are giving joy to children who would not have received anything.”

The most fantastic thing is, knowing you are giving joy to children who would not have received anything.

Carol Hall

The shoeboxes will be delivered to schools, orphanages where they can be distributed.

Carol added: “The volunteers have been amazing and we wouldn’t be able to do what we do, without their support and the time they give up. They have volunteered an estimated 2,750 hours which doesn’t include the morning of helping to load the lorry or those who have gone into school assemblies. We have all worked as a team to bring this together.”

Mayor of South Tyneside, Coun Olive Punchion said: “Operation Christmas Child is such a worthwhile cause and dear to the hearts of many people from across the borough and beyond.

“It was a great honour to be there to see the shoeboxes set off on their long journey to children who would otherwise face a bleak Christmas without a gift.

“People have once again been extremely generous and thanks to them there will be thousands of smiling children in Latvia this Christmas. It really does mean so much to them.

“On behalf of South Tyneside Council I’d like to thank everyone who has contributed to the appeal and to Carol, the organisers and all the volunteers, who do such an amazing job.”